In the southern part of the township, women also arrived in those very early years to settle in the wilderness.  Among them was Sarah Kennedy Ryan, whose husband was James.  They began their trek to this new land from Connecticut in 1805, bringing with them all the possessions they could carry by wagon.  Once arrived they looked for land near water, heading south of where the Sturgeon brothers had settled (now recognized as an area south of the intersection of Routes 20 and 98). 

Anyone traveling south on Route 98 knows of the Devil’s Backbone and the hill that heads down at that location.  Surely those horses pulling the wagon had had enough when they reached the bottom of the hill, for family lore is that they would not budge up the other side, and so, there the family stayed.  Of course, the hill became known as “Ryan’s Hill,” and the little community that formed there was the “Ryan Community.”  The water they found there was Elk Creek. 

James and Sarah are both buried in the Fairview Cemetery, as are three of their children: James, John and Samuel.  Sarah was about 37 when she arrived in Fairview and was just short of 84 when she died in January 1852.  During those years she struggled – as did all the early female pioneers – with privation, with exhaustion, with large families, with loneliness, with a yearning for her siblings and parents, with sickness, and more.  Yet, she and her family flourished, and their line continued.  James died in December, also in 1852.


Coming to the Sterrettania area were Mathias Donor and his wife Mary Catherine Bean.  Mathias emigrated from Ireland and settled in Lancaster County.  There he met Mary Catherine and in 1835 they were married.  Together they had eleven children.  When the Civil War began the couple were 49 (Mathias) and 47 (Mary Catherine).  He was a bit old for joining the military as was she, being left behind to perform his chores as well as her own on the farm when her husband went off to war.   

Still, they survived, and both lived many more years.  One of their sons, Milton, married Cora Kreider and they purchased a farm on Bear Creek Road near Sterrettania.  One of their children was Earl J. Donor, who was quite active in business in the area during the early 1900s. (The photo is Cora Kreider Donor.)

Again, every woman who immigrated to Fairview Township in those early years deserves to be recognized as outstanding…. But we shall move on to two women of the Civil War era in our next post.

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